August 30, 2012

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Look no further, this Lobster Mac and Cheese Recipe from Cal Hancock, owner of Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co. in Cundy's Harbor, Maine, is the one you absolutely have to make.

The first time I had Lobster Mac and Cheese was Fall 2007, when my in-laws Stuart and Joanne threw a cocktail party to celebrate our wedding with family friends who couldn't make it to Ogunquit, Maine for the ceremony. We had a lobster bake at our wedding reception so it naturally tied the events together when the caterers served this savory dish as one of the several appetizers at their party. Everyone raved about the lobster mac, a combination that seemed relatively unheard of at the least we had never heard of it, but one bite and we were all hooked.

Last week while vacationing in Virginia Beach we had phenomenal dinner with our friends Chris and Trista at HK on the Bay. I had ordered a Tri Tip Chimichurri Sirloin with a side of Lobster Mac and Cheese, both were cooked to perfection. I decided that when I got home, I was going to try and make this mac and cheese delicasy.

I started perusing the web for "the best" lobster mac and cheese recipes and the stand-out was Cal Hancock's. Obviously my choice to try was heavily influenced by the fact that she had won a throw down with Bobby Flay. Scott took one bite and said, "superb!"

Being from New England, I'm accustomed to running into the local grocery store and selecting fresh lobster from the tank, and even having it steamed right then and there if I'm in a hurry. Unfortunately, it's not so easy to do in Maryland. While in Giant, I went with a package of frozen lobster from Cozy Harbor Co., a company from Portland, Maine.

I used Cal's recipe to make a seafood mac and cheese. Instead of using only lobster, I added one cup of bay scallops and one cup of shrimp. Again, you would never know the seafood was previously frozen, everything came out extremely tender, and it substantially cut down on prep time due to the lobster and shrimp being pre-cooked.

A scrumptious crust made with panko crumbs, lemon zest, butter, and fresh herbs, and parmesan delicately tops this dish (though it would be just as delicious without it if you'd prefer). This is a very rich mac and cheese that can be served as a main dish or makes a very impressive side.

August 28, 2012

Taste Unlimited - Virginia Beach

Thursday Morning: Picked up Scott from UMD and headed to Virginia Beach for a family vacation with the Imrichs. Now all of you with small children know how easy it is to leave in the morning without having breakfast. Well, all I had was a cup of coffee, but when I had the option of stopping half way and filling up on fast food or waiting it out and getting the ultimate satisfaction of wolfing down a sandwich from the Taste Unlimited, this mommy opted for the latter and grabbed another cup of coffee. And boy was the wait worth it!

Chicken Curry Sandwich, Route 11 Dill Pickle Chips, Fruit Salad, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

Sunday Afternoon: As the saying goes, betcha can't eat just one. After spending the morning playing with Morgan on the beach while the bigger boys took the kayak out crabbing, I was ready for another round of Taste delectables. What are in the bags? A Northender, Roastbeef with Provolone, Route 11 Chesapeake Crab and Deep River Rosemary and Olive Oil Chips, Coke, Sprite, and an Orangina. Those of you that know and love me may be wondering if all that food was just for me... but I shared with the rest of the gang.

Monday Morning: I stopped by one more time to take a couple of indoor shots of this "golden nugget" delicatessen. They have several house spreads (we love the horseradish cheddar).

They also have an incredible selection of several choices of chips, crackers, and refreshments.

And if you are really in a hurry they have plenty ready to "Grab and Go."

There are locations throughout Virginia, and if you are near one this is a stop you'll be glad you made.  FYI: The Oceanfront location has "Dune Delivery," click here for details.

What is your favorite local foodie spot?  Post it as a comment below!

August 27, 2012

Fricase de Pollo

Warning: This dish is addicting. My father-in-law Ernesto, taught me how to make it in October, and I have made it several times since. A Cuban comfort food that freezes very well. It is often accompanied by white rice, tostones or maduros.

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August 26, 2012

Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Who doesn't love hot and bubbly spinach and artichoke dip? It has to be one of the most popular appetizers ordered at restaurants. Well, you no longer have to go out, you can make it at home.
My recipe is slightly adapted from this highly rated dip on Allrecipes. Grab your favorite tortilla chips and dig in!

Having beautiful and unique bakeware that can go straight from your oven to table is great not only for presentation but also for an easy cleanup. While on vacation in the Florida Keys, my parents picked up a few pieces of Tom Chamberlain pottery for us as wedding presents. I have loved using the brie baking dish for my crab dip, but I was just on the site recently and discovered I need to pick up one of these!

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August 20, 2012

Shag Boston

January 2011
Have you dreamed of getting your haircut at a celebrity salon but assumed you couldn't afford it? Well, now you can, and starting October 1, 2012 we will be giving away three haircuts from Shag, Boston's hottest hair salon. The final giveaway is for no other than the man himself, celebrity stylist Sandy Poirier. Read on for details regarding this absolutely fabulous opportunity.

After spending a week in the woods last October at Project Adventure, in Beverly MA, I was ready for a daring new haircut that emulated the exuberance of energy I was feeling after such a life changing week. I was going to be in Boston area for another week, so I hit up Yelp trying to find Boston's best to cut and color my hair. Of course there were many reviews for stylists on Newbury St. but no one stood out until I started reading reviews and articles on celebrity stylist and professional photographer Sandy Poirier, owner of Shag salon in the south end of Boston. I had just spent a week at Project Adventure continuing to practice how to think outside of the box and was drawn towards Sandy because he clearly does the same.

Sandy on Chronicle 2010
First of all, Shag is a successful salon in Southie, not exactly the neighborhood known for high-end salons and posh boutiques. This salon doesn't need a fancy Newbury address to bring in new clients. Having lived in the Boston area for several years, I myself am guilty of choosing salons just because they were on Newbury Street. Lesson learned, the Newbury location does not guarantee high quality hair, but it does guarantee high prices... owners need to pay the premium rent, but it doesn't necessarily mean they are worth it. Off the beaten path, it is reassuring to know that people go to Shag for its reputation, not its real estate.

Have you ever left a hair appointment disappointed because your cut was great but your color was mediocre, or vice versa? I believe this often happens because the trend is to rely on only one person to cut and color creating a "jack of all trades, masters of none" situation. But not at Shag... Shag is split into two sections, one side for colorists and one for cutting. Shag stylists choose one area of concentration, either cut or color, and they spend all of their time and energy perfecting their craft. I use master colorist Patty Martin for my highlights, and then get my cut from Sandy. Not going to lie, it feels pretty awesome to have two expert stylists collaborating on a vision for your new hairstyle.

Let's go back to reputation and prices for a minute. Even without the premium real estate Shag has a reputation that people would be willing to spend top dollar for. Sandy is a celebrity stylist. He and his team travel around the nation to participate in various high profile fashion events (e.g., New York's Fashion Week). Some people are willing to pay outlandish prices for celebrity stylists, $400+ for a cut, and most celebrity stylists are willing to charge them. Not Sandy. As his celebrity status continues to climb his prices remain the same: $90 for a haircut.  During my first visit we had a conversation about his prices and I had commented that I respected him for not hiking up his prices when he could do so. His response was, "I couldn't do that to people, especially in this economy." I find that most endearing about Sandy. In an industry that promotes a "me me me" type mentality, Sandy has found a way to become a rockstar stylist without losing sight of what is most important - his character. It's also a smart move because the majority of us can't afford to pay celebrity stylist prices (and many that do really can't afford to).  With his skill and humble approach, going anywhere else would mean paying more and getting less. Having extra cash in your pocket you can afford to splurge on the phenomenal products Shag carries from Oribe and Davines.

You can't help but feel like a superstar when you sit in Sandy's hot red leather chair. He not only listens to your ideas of what you want but loves when you bring him pictures of the look you are going for. Whether you are going for a simple fresh look or feeling adventurous and are going for bold and edgy, the Shag team is ready to make it happen. And here's how you can win a free cut from Sandy's A-Team:

GNG will be giving away 3 free cuts at Shag

The first winner will be drawn on October 1st, 2012 for a free cut from stylist Elle Powers.
Once the winner is notified by email he or she has 48 hours to respond or another winner will be selected. See official rules. The next drawing will be announced with the winner of this one.  Good luck!

Sandy Poirier, January Roberts, and Patty Martin August 14, 2012

a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 14, 2012

Cloth Diaper Swimmis and Swim Coordinates

Morgie is a water baby so finding cute, reliable, and reusable cloth swimming diapers is a must for our family. After reading several online reviews we chose Bummis Swimmis and have been absolutely happy with our purchase. I have so far gotten almost 2 years of use (summer pool seasons and winter vacations) out of these swimmis and they look and perform just as good as when I first bought them. Visit my online GNG shopping cart (page 2) and pick up a few of  these must have swimmis.

Watch for rockbottom online sales from Gymboree's Swim Shop. You will save a ton of money! During Morgie's first year, I planned ahead, purchasing offseason, and was able to snag matching rash guards, shorts, and hats for well under $5 a piece (original prices averaged $20). This year I forgot to do so, and spent a small fortune outfitting him for our March trip to Punta Cana.  I learned my lesson and will be looking for this sale over the next couple of months. Let me know if you want a heads up when the sale begins.

GNG highly recommends picking up a couple of rash guards for babies and small children, especially if you are going somewhere tropical. We felt reassured knowing that the rash guard provided Morgie with an extra layer of defense (paired with sunscreen) against the blazing sun. By the end of the week, he had a healthy color and no sunburn. While on the beach we had several families come up to us and ask where we got the rash guards and wished that they had picked some up. Morgie befriended a cute little girl Julietta, from Argentina, and loaned her one of his for the week. Here's a pic of he and his beach buddy heading for the surf.

August 12, 2012

Spice-Coated Rack of Lamb for 2

Stop what you are doing and go and get a rack of lamb, a can of Ghirardelli Cocoa and a package of your favorite light-roast coffee. This lamb recipe is to die for! You can store the cocoa and coffee in the freezer for future use, so I highly recommend splurging on the more expensive cocoa and coffee brands for this recipe.

Although this our favorite lamb recipe, I had to take a short hiatus from making it when I was three months pregnant. My high school friend Nancy flew out from Chicago for a visit, and I had made this for a "surprise we're pregnant" dinner. Unfortunately for me.....and more so for Scott (he craves this dish).... I bragged that night that I had not experienced any food aversions during my first trimester. No sooner was the lamb cooked to medium rare that I had my head hanging out the window for fresh air the entire dinner. It took a year before I could enjoy eating and cooking lamb again. Pictured left are the chops from that memorable night.

August 3, 2012

Mom to Mom Supreme Diapers

The other day I ran into Safeway to grab a box of diapers. I'm usually a Huggies mom but I couldn't help but notice that there was another brand that I was not familiar with and it was $5 cheaper than the popular name brand competitors. Introducing Mom to Mom Supreme Diapers, an economical and dependable line of diapers (and other baby products) by Safeway. We are almost through the box and we have not experienced one leak.

FYI: I started out using Smarti Pants cloth diapers with Morgie and absolutely loved them. Unfortunately we tend to travel a lot and I found myself using disposable diapers whenever we were away from home. These one sized pocket cloth diapers are cheaper than most of their competitors, have a genius adjustable snap system that allows you to use them into toddlerhood, and are made in the USA.

If you are looking for a great cloth swimming diaper, GNG highly recommends the Bummis Swimmi cloth diapers. We have used them for the past two summers and have been completely satisfied. Check them out at the GNG shopping cart (page 2).